Forwards Coach, Chris Gibbes, said that the Ospreys’ sluggish start in the Belfast wind and rain last night meant that they gave Ulster “too big a head start”.
Having trailed by 15 points at the break, the depleted Ospreys team dug deep after the restart to work their way back into the contest, 13 points in the third quarter bringing them to within two points of their hosts.
However, they were unable to get the next, crucial, score, and Ulster’s third try of the night in the final two minutes denied them even a losing bonus point.
Reflecting on the performance after the final whistle, Gibbes felt that it was a case of one that got away.
“It was a great effort in the second half, yes, and we showed great spirit, but ultimately we’ve only really got ourselves to blame about losing this game” he said.
“That’s what is most frustrating.
“In the first half we didn’t put it in the areas where we wanted to and that meant we found ourselves under pressure. They took the opportunities that we gave them. Then, we were well in it for 35 minutes of the second half but just didn’t have enough about us to see the job through in the end.
“To be fair, when we spoke at half-time we simply said that we had to get back to doing what we’ve trained all week, what we’ve planned for tonight. We made a big step-up, which is pleasing, but we should have been doing that right from the first whistle and that’s not where we want to be.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t keep it up right to the end when we needed to, but what’s most disappointing is that we didn’t execute what we’ve been practicing in the first half. We’ve got to understand as a group what you need to do to take advantage of those critical moments in the game.
“We did well to work our way back into the game but it really wasn’t that big an ask. We knew from what we’d seen in the first half that if we did what we’d practiced all week then we would be in the game, we could win it.
“We scored a good try that gave us some momentum, we played in the right areas and we put ourselves in a great position to go on and win it with a quarter of the game left. I think we probably did do enough to win the game but ultimately, we gave them too big a head start in the first half and just couldn’t keep going in those last five minutes.
“That’s a mark of the standards expected of the Ospreys that coming here tonight and being 15 points behind at half-time, we are bitterly disappointed about not closing the game out at the death and leaving here with nothing.
“We’ve got to keep focusing on getting the performance right, and we’ve got to understand that if you don’t take your opportunities then you’ll lose games.
“Leinster away next week will be another difficult match, we know that, but we’ll work hard in training again this week and look to improve on tonight. It’s another game, another chance for us to show that we are learning, that we are improving.”